History in Haywood County, NC
WILLIAM HARRISON LEATHERWOOD
written by Rev. Frank Siler
published in the Waynesville, NC newspaper in April 1926
after the funeral of W. H. Leatherwood.
During my brief pastorate here I have conducted or assisted in conducting
the funeral services of eight of Haywood countys oldest citizens.
In coming to this ninth one, none I think has attained to the age,
or had a wider acquaintance, or county connection.
Two sisters, Mrs. Laura Owen and Mrs. Matt Allison, both of Jonathans
Creek, survive him. His mothers maiden name was McNabb, a Tennesseean.
His father, John Leatherwood and brother Jack, went from Haywood County
to East Tennessee and married sisters. John Leatherwood came back to
this county where he reared his family and lived until during the Civil
War, on a visit to three of his sons in prison he contracted a disease
which had smitten many of the men in camp, including his three sons,
two of whom died, the father also lost his life.
The long journey of his father, difficult and perilous, to be with
his distressed soldier boys may be taken as a reminder of a family loyalty
which has characterized the family for a century.
The other brother Jack with his wife passed on to Cherokee County in
the extreme western part of the state where they reared a family. It
was from this western branch that were descended those members of the
Leatherwood family whose names are familiar to residents of Macon and
Jackson Counties in former years. Some of them have migrated to Haywood,
as for example, Mrs. Felix B. Alley, who is a granddaughter of Jack
and Elvira Leatherwood.
The subject of this sketch was first married to Miss Clara Welch Hayes
of Waynesville at the then well known Welch House on Sunday morning,
July, 2nd, 1860 by the Rev. W. H. Howell in the presence as attendants
of Dr. H. M. Rogers, Miss Matt E. Howell, R. H. Howell, Miss Matt Freeman,
W. P. Welch and Miss Mollie B. Francis. Miss Hayes attended school in
the old Baptist church taught by the Rev. John Ammons. It was during
her school days that Mr. Leatherwóod formed her acquaintance,
wooed and won her who proved to him a great blessing.
Among those who were her school mates and close friends I mention such
familiar names as Sallie Herren Miller, Sadie Norwood Ferguson, Rixie
Battle Felmet, Matilda Howell Rogers.
To them were born the following children: Mrs. Mary Bradley, Kingsport,
Tenn.; Mrs. Annie Francis, Waynesville; W. P. Leatherwood, Lake Junaluska;
Eustice E. Leatherwood, deceased; John M. Leatherwood, Dillsboro; Joseph
B. and Robert V. Leatherwood, East Waynesville; Jerry R. Leatherwood,
deceased; Walter W. Leatherwood, Roseburg, Oregon; James Thomas Leatherwood,
deceased; Grover, G. Leatherwood, Lake Junaluska; Frank W. Leatherwood,
Lake Junaluska and, Rufus and Nora, twins, who died in infancy and another,
the last born, dying in infancy.
Thirty-one years ago he was again married to Miss Mary Palmer of Cataloochee
whom were born three children, Mrs. E. D. Barnhill of Enfield, N. C.
and Mrs. R. B. Howell of Jonathans Creek and Maggie who died in
January third, 1900, by Rev. Mr. Williams, Brother Leatherwood was
again united in marriage to Miss Belle Carver of Leceister, Buncombe
County. To them were born five children, three of these with the mother
survive him, viz, Miss Mary Louise and Miss Winnie of Asheville and
William Benjamin Leatherwood of Hazelwood.
From the above it will be seen that many of the names of those who
will preserve the family name besides the wide defusion of blood in
a wide circle of relatives.
Besides the numerous children given our brother as his heritage sixty
six out of eighty grandchildren born survive him and thirty-five great
Mr. Leatherwood in early manhood was considered a weakly young man
and an out of door occupation was sought for him. It was during this
period that he rode the mail, which in those days had to be borne on
horseback, from Asheville to Murphy. His stopping place in Asheville
was at the old Hilliard home, a well known place of hospitality.
It was perhaps as a school teacher that our brother formed that habit
for exactness and system that made him in later life an invaluable asset
in the public service of his native county as an accountant and in the
holding of public office. He was proficient in figures, having his services
often sought, by his comrades in office while a habit at the court house
on commissoners days. All who have had business there will recall
his familiar face during later years in the clerks office.
Besides the public schools of Jonathans Creek, Brother Leatherwood
found good and far reaching training in early life in the Moody School
near the old Methodist church which stood in what is now the Waynesville
cemetery under Prof. Dabney. Among his loved and trusted friends in
this old school was David Boyd. He boarded with Dr. Rogers. Here he
learned the art of mathematical accuracy and attained great proficiency
in figures and a great pensmanship. I have had access to some of his
war reminiscencies written in a smooth and most legible style. He was
in consequence in great demand for public office by his fellow citizens
of Haywood County who was three time elected to the office of sheriff,
serving in this capacity for six consecutive years. He was for two terms
Register of Deeds, was appointed to fill out one unexpired term as Clerk
of the Court and for a number of years deputy clerk.
For a great many years he was Justice of the Peace which office he
held to the time of his late removal of his residence to Asheville.
He served repeatedly as county commissioner and held the trusted and
important office of County Treasurer for six years.
His hand is said to have been affixed to more court records, his offices
sought in more county settlements, and his services obtained for more
marriages than any man who has lived in the county. He was a man of
painstaking precision. One familiar with his rule of action which compelled
him to do well whatever he set his hend to told me that he had known
him to sit up with public business all night.
"During his imprisonment at this had many hardships to undergo,
such as to render his prison life very disagreeable, many times suffering
with cold and hunger, but he held out until the last when he was
compelled to submit and take the oath of allegiance to the U. S. before
he could be released from prison. The first of January, 1864 is noted
for being so very cold many of the prisoners at this place were very
near frozen to death. The 23rd of September 1864 for the tornado, which
left the house which I was in without a top and some others in the prison.
Some few men were injured by the flying timber, but none killed.
The lake was frozen over nearly all the winter of 1864-65. Nothing
but ice could be seen.
On the 9th of April, Gen. Lee surrendered his army to General Grant.
On receiving this many prisoners became very much discouraged, believing
the Confederacy would soon fal1 to pieces.
Gen. Joe E. Johnson surrendered his army to Gen. Sherman on the 26th
day of April when our last hope was gone. On April 14th President Lincoln
was assasinated in the Washington Theatre and died twenty-two minutes
after seven on the following morning.
Then follows in the same hand a foot note written after his return
home, which is as follows:
Among the many lessons from the above to us all today, I merely pause
to call to your special attention that which I have always heard to
be true, but here it stands out in bold outline, vis: that the name
of President Lincoln was then, as now, dear to the soldiers on both
sides of the conflict.
Mr. Leatherwood took great delight in keeping up his connection with
the veterans of the Lost Cause. Mrs. Leatherwood is authority for the
statement that during their 26 years together he did not fail to attend
the county, state and general reunions, being at his death a staunch
member of the Zebulon Vance Camp, United Veterans of Asheville.
Ha was one of the founders and promoters of the Pink Welch Camp of
Cebron, the third son, brother of the subject of this sketch, was finally
discharged from prison and made his way home, afterwards going to Oregon
whom our brother visited only a few years ago and has since died.
Of those close to Mr. Leatherwood during his war days are mentioned
Jerry Ratcliffe, Washington Corzine, John Turpin, Robert Owen and John
Mull. The latter living on Allens Creek, alone of the number remain.
Excepting the first seventeen years of his married life spent on Jonathans
Creek with brief residences in Waynesville and Asheville, Mr. Leatherwood
has lived at the old Leatherwood home near the highway between Waynesvllle
and Lake Juna1uska.
His domestic life was affectionate and tender. He loved his family
with an unquenchable devotion.
Of his home life, I quote the words of a well-known colored couple,
who have, been right much in the life of his family in recent years.
Using their words spoken in my home: He was kind and good to everybody
about his premises.
None could have had his desires more perfectly met than during his
last days when, with his wife and children and grandchildren about him,
with a daughter as trained nurse to minister to him in the home perhaps
of his most beloved daughter-in-law he made as he styled it- "his
He talked freely about his end and left with us expressions of the
Hope of Hopes that his Captain was with him.
It was a most blesseed coincidence that his last Sabbath day in his
adopted home town, Asheville, should have been a bright Easter day which
found him in Dr. Chandlers great Bible class at Central Church
which he had accustomed himself to attend after moving there. Then following
this came a great and inspiring Easter message from the pastor, Dr.
Chappell, which he during his sickness never tired of referring to.
A few days before the end he asked for the singing of some of the old
hymns of the church and at its close he seemed to join the group about
him in the commitment of his soul to God as a faithful Creator."
For two days hope returned to his loved ones that he might live on among
us, but early Tuesday morning as the sun was rising, without a struggle
his spirit slipped away peacefully to the Father that gave it.
There was a large concourse of people at the funera1 conducted Wednesday
at two P. M., April 21st, at Longs Chapel by his pastor, Rev.
Frank Siler, assisted by Rev. S. R. Crockett, a friend of the deceased
and family and pastor of the Presbyterian church of Waynesville.
The burial was in the family lot in the Waynesville Cemetery
Third In A Series of Pioneer Haywood Families
The Waynesville Mountaineer
Monday, April 3, 1961
Mrs. Mollie Leatherwood Bradley
-daughter of John & Clara Hayes Leatherwood
-at age 95 (in 1961), the oldest surviving member
of the John Leatherwood family
|The Haywood family of Leatherwoods are, in greater part, of English
ancestry. John Leatherwood, who married Sallie Hunt in Virginia, came
into the present section of Haywood (then Buncombe) around the year 1800,
he and his wife locating on Jonathans Creek just below present Dellwood.
Here they reared a family of six boys and four girls. John Leatherwood was a man of influence in his community, his name being often mentioned in our old records in connection with county affairs.
Arthurs history says of him: John Leatherwood was well known for his thrift and industry, fine hounds, fine cattle, and good old-time apple brandy - a good citizen who lived to a good old age.
Of the children of John Leatherwood, John B. seems to have been the eldest. He settled on Jonathans Creek, as did his brother Samuel, who married Tirza Haynes and lived at the home place.
Then there were the three blind boys born to John and Sallie Hunt Leatherwood. Their names were Jason, Edmond and Elias - Jason being the only one who lived to manhood. Another son, Jack, settled in Cherokee County.
An interesting record is to be found in the records of the old county court about the time of the Civil War, as follows: Jason Leatherwood came into court and, at his own request, made application that a guardian be appointed for himself and his two blind brothers. The application was approved.
Another son, Jack, settled in Cherokee County.
Two daughters, it seems, lived in Tennessee--Adaline who married Zack Allen, and Betsey, the wife of William McNabb.
Then there were two younger daughters of John Leatherwood who lived in this county--Nancy who married Humphrey P. Haynes, and Polly, the wife of Reuben Moody.
The John B. Leatherwood Line
It is the John B. Leatherwood line of Haywood & Jackson and Cherokee
counties with which this sketch is especially concerned.
William H. Leatherwood
Bill Leatherwood (as he was usually called), son of John B. Leatherwood,
was a remarkable man - the most so, it appears, of the Leatherwood family
of this western section of the state.
William H. Leatherwood was married three times, first to Clara Hayes,
and to this union 15 children were born. Next he married Mary Palmer,
by which marriage there were three children. The third time he married
Belle Carver, they having reared three children. Four of these children
(three of the first family and one of the second) died in infancy or
Articles courtesy of Miss Dorothy J. Hall. ~ gr-gr-grandaughter of John & Sallie Hunt Leatherwood